The Privacy Calculus of “Friending” Across Multiple Social Media Platforms

Yu Hao Lee*, Chien Wen Yuan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Relationship building through social network sites (SNSs) requires privacy disclosure that involves a calculus of potential benefits against privacy risks. Tie formation (e.g., friending, following, or connecting) on SNSs is one of the most significant forms of privacy disclosure that not only communicate one’s willingness to disclose but can also reveal past activity history and invite future interactions. Based on the communication privacy management theory, the current study examines how users consider the privacy calculus and tie-formation affordances of the SNSs to manage ties across multiple SNSs. Using an online survey of 630 Facebook and/or Instagram users, the study revealed that individuals with higher privacy concerns strategically manage their privacy by connecting with different relationship ties through different SNSs as a way to construct sociotechnical boundaries between networks. The findings have implications for understanding privacy management online and provide a potential explanation for the privacy paradox.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Media and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr


  • communication privacy management theory
  • privacy calculus
  • privacy paradox
  • social network sites
  • tie formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications


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